THE AUDIOPRO HOME RECORDING COURSE VOLUME 3By Bill GibsonMixBooks800/543-7771; www.mixbooks.comAttending a top recording program is the best way to get a well-rounded, in-depth education in audio production techniques. However, due to financial or geographic considerations, such a path is impossible for many students, and for people in these situations, home study is often the only available alternative.
Three years ago, producer/engineer/composer/studio owner Bill Gibson debuted his The AudioPro Home Recording Course, a 245-page text focusing on recording basics such as mixing, equalization, signal processing and guitar and drum miking. The book included two CDs so readers could hear audio examples of studio techniques. The success of the original course led Gibson to follow with a second edition, The AudioPro Home Recording Course, Volume 2, emphasizing mixing techniques, along with a section on session organization and methods of recording bass, piano, vocals and synths.
Continuing the "cut to the chase" approach and listen-as-you-learn CDs used in his two previous books, The AudioPro Home Recording Course Volume 3 expands the series with a new book/CD that delves into digital recording (with hard disk and MDMs), recording software and plug-ins, advanced MIDI and audio synchronization, digital mixing, and mastering the final product.
Without a doubt, the strength of The AudioPro Home Recording Course is Gibson's down-to-earth writing style, which leans heavily on providing practical tips and power user secrets for getting the sound you want. Additionally, the CDs aptly demonstrate the principles in the text, allowing the student to assimilate difficult-to-describe or subtle concepts easily (and quickly). Priced at an affordable $59.95 per volume, The AudioPro Home Recording Course puts novices on the fast track for creating some great tracks of their own.
THE NEW STEREO SOUNDBOOKBy Ron Streicher and F. Alton EverestAudio Engineering Associates800/798-9127; www.stereosoundbook.comNearly a decade in the making, this second edition of the 1991 The New Stereo Soundbook builds on the original and provides a thorough, yet eminently readable examination of nearly every aspect of stereo audio creation.
Fourteen chapters explore the topic in detail, from the early stereophonic demonstrations of the 1880s and the work of pioneers such as Blumlein and Fletcher in the 1930s, up through modern multichannel surround systems. The book also presents a solid foundation for the understanding of the human auditory process, looking at the physiological, perceptual and psychoacoustic aspects of the stereo "illusion." Other chapters detail topics such as binaural recording, 2-channel and multichannel stereo microphone techniques, coincident vs. spaced-pair approaches, pseudostereo and a section on optimizing the listening space. As an added bonus, the book includes a complete reprint of Blumlein's 1931 patent on stereo techniques, which even today provides fascinating reading.
Authors Streicher and Everest have done an exemplary job of presenting this sometimes-difficult material in a clear, understandable manner, with dozens of illustrations and graphics. At $54.50, The New Stereo Soundbook is an important work that's a must-read for anyone serious about stereo. -George Petersen
ACOUSTICS: ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, THE ENVIRONMENTBy Charles M. Salter Associates Inc.William Stout Publishers415/391-6757; www.stoutbooks.com;www.cmsalter.comCharles Salter is not the first name in recording studio acoustics, though perhaps he should be. Projects on which his company has provided acoustical consulting include the Skywalker Ranch Technical Building, the Dolby Laboratories Screening Room, the Todd-AO Scoring Stage and Off Planet Entertainment, to name just a few. But he's a generalist in every sense of the word. Clean sound is his life, whether it be for noise control in the Oakland Federal Building, testifying in court as a specialist in audio forensics, or noise dampening in a variety of trendy restaurants. Other projects include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and his own Presentation Studio, where clients get an interactive feel for the properties of various materials.
Last year, the Salter team put out an immense and extremely comprehensive coffee-table book on acoustics, including numerous case studies and more than 300 full-color graphs, photos and illustrations of the fundamental principles. There is something for everyone, whether an attorney, building project manager, design professional or recording professional. After opening with a basic history of acoustics, the book quickly moves into chapters on fundamental principles, psychoacoustics and hearing, environmental noise and sound insulation. Of particular interest to Mix readers would be the chapter on "Room Acoustics," which was written by David Schwind and appeared in Mix as an excerpt in August 1997.
Each chapter is written by a working professional, in his or her area of expertise. So the reader is provided with insights into mechanical and electrical systems, sound amplification systems, audio/visual presentation, cost analyses, legal issues, building vibrations...the list goes on. Also included are a comprehensive glossary of terms, a backgrounder on each contributor and a detailed index.
Priced at $75, Acoustics: Architecture, Engineering, The Environment would seem a must for any recording school program, if only for its fundamental approach and clear, concise explanations of complex topics. It should also find a home on the coffee table of any recording studio, big or small, commercial or private. After all, it's all about the sound. -Tom Kenny
PROFESSIONAL MICROPHONE TECHNIQUESBy David Miles Huber and Philip WilliamsMixBooks800/543-7771; www.mixbooks.comThere are LOTS of books on the subject of microphones, but Professional Microphone Techniques ($39.95) takes the reader beyond the usual text. Rather than simply presenting reams of theory, the book provides a short section on basics and fundamentals, followed by dozens of examples that reveal insider techniques for microphone use and placement.
Illustrated how-to sections cover both vocals and instruments ranging from accordions (traditional as well as bandoneons and concertinas) to xylophones and zithers, along with dulcimers, doumbeks, didgeridoos and dobros. Fortunately, there's also more than equal attention to more common studio instruments, such as drum sets, piano, Leslie cabinets, horns, guitar and bass. And taking the process one step further, Professional Microphone Techniques includes an audio CD that allows the reader/listener to hear the various effects of microphone placement techniques.
Written by best-selling audio author David Miles Huber (whose Modern Recording Techniques established itself as a standard text in audio schools worldwide) and Philip Williams, a noted engineer and founder of several acoustic music labels, Professional Microphone Techniques is a well-written, concise and informative guide that opens new avenues for creativity and could save a lot of time and trouble for beginners and studio pros alike.
HOW TO MAKE AND SELL YOUR OWN RECORDINGBy Diane Sward RapaportJerome Headlands Press520/634-8894; www.kspace.com/jhpThis book, now in a revised fifth edition, originally came out in 1978 when there were relatively few places musicians could turn to learn about the intricacies of how to put out an independent record. It was a fine book then and it's an even better book now, updated to reflect changes in technology (MIDI, ADATs, sampling, etc.) and the music industry. This is not the place to get highly detailed recording information, but there are a couple of chapters that lay out the basics of recording in a very clear and concise way, and present the reader with many different options for managing a recording project.
Other chapters in this $32.95 book deal quite specifically with various issues connected to putting out an independent record: mastering, manufacturing, distribution, artwork/ printing, copyrights, contracts, promotion and financial matters of every kind. The text is peppered with real-life examples that illustrate some of the ideas in the book, and there are step by step instructions for how to write a business plan and make a timetable for completing different kinds of projects. All in all, the book is a great starting place for anyone brave (or crazy) enough to want to make and market their own recordings.